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3 ways CRM improves customer experience

To be efficient, businesses need their information in one place. Using a CRM system, companies can improve CX by keeping track of their customers and automating business processes.

Customer relationship management is essential for businesses to run smoothly, especially when the primary focus is to satisfy customers.

Without a CRM system in place, businesses struggle to develop a complete view of their customers, which makes it harder to personalize and improve customer experiences.

Here are some ways that a CRM system can improve customer experience.

1. Collect customer data for personalization

A CRM platform replaces the manual processes of collecting and keeping track of data throughout the customer lifecycle. Businesses that deploy CRM systems in the cloud also have the advantage of accessing this information both in the office or on the go, enabling employees to better personalize customer interactions.

Salesforce serves as a system of record for customer demographic information at Rapid7, a cybersecurity services company in Boston, said Amber Boaz, a Salesforce solution architect. The CRM platform tracks customer support, as well as other customer information from lead all the way through order.

At one point in time, sales agents and their CRM platforms were the keepers of customer data. But now, with many businesses focusing on customer experience, that data extends far beyond sales.

Nicole FranceNicole France

"Everybody in the organization has some role to play in customer relationships," said Nicole France, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Other departments including customer service and marketing also interact with customers.

Some vendors such as Salesforce -- which started as a CRM system and is now more of a customer experience platform -- offer cloud services through their software, which silo information by department. For example, if a company uses Salesforce Service Cloud, the entire customer service department can access the same information within that system, enabling smooth interactions. Meanwhile, the sales department may have access to Salesforce Sales Cloud, which contains information that the sales department collected. Because the customer service and sales departments operate different software, they cannot access each other's information. When a representative from one department transfers a call to another department, customers may need to repeat information they already provided.

"The most fundamental relationship between CRM systems and customer experience is making it possible to have some consistent, coherent and integrated interactions with a customer, and that is a huge part of customer experience," France said.

While the CRM system gathers customer data in each department, there is a software that businesses can use on top of the CRM system to build an even better customer profile -- a customer data platform (CDP).

To avoid this disconnect between departments, and to potentially offer a better customer experience, a business may consider implementing a CDP. A CDP draws data from each silo into a single golden record of the customer. As a result, a business's employees don't have to ask customers the same questions repeatedly because all customer information is compiled into a single record in the CDP.

2. Automate business processes

A CRM system can improve customer experience by using various integrations that eliminate a lot of the frustrations that come from manual processes between companies and their customers.

Amber BoazAmber Boaz

DocuSign, for example, integrates with Salesforce, enabling customers to sign documents directly through the system. Prior to moving over to Salesforce, Rapid7 used NetSuite as its CRM platform and, at the time, did not use the DocuSign integration. However, now that Rapid7 uses the DocuSign integration, the process of signing documents is much less tedious.

"[It is] faster, more efficient [and] more ecofriendly," Boaz said.

Bradley-Morris Inc. and RecruitMilitary, a company that connects military veterans and spouses with employers, uses Einstein Activity Capture to automatically log calendar invites and email communications with customers inside of Salesforce. Einstein Activity Capture gives the company a more complete view of all interactions with its customers.

3. Track all customer interactions

Kyle DavisKyle Davis

If a business sells a product, it has some form of a CRM in place. That could be something as simple as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or something a company built using a database, said Kyle Davis, a Gartner analyst.

"You know what products or services you're either selling to them or [what] they've purchased from you in the past," Davis said.

Having a solid CRM system enables support and sales teams to stay up to date with customers and to follow up with customers after interactions.

Josh DaymentJosh Dayment

"When we look at our customers inside Salesforce, we see everything that they've ever done with our organization," said Josh Dayment, Salesforce administrator at Bradley-Morris Inc. and RecruitMilitary. "Whether that is a customer support type of request they filled out, a survey or a webform, all of that information is stored on a customer account record inside Salesforce."

Salesforce is just one example of a company that offers a CRM platform -- Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Oracle also offer CRM systems.

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